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July 26, 2002

by Ashley Harper

David Burch began hunting rattlesnakes when he was a teenager. In the more than thirty years of hunting these poisonous reptiles, he's gathered hundreds of snakes and never been bitten -that is until a few weeks ago.

"In the process of handling him, he bit me twice on my left hand," says Burch.

Burch was taken to Louis-Smith hospital in Lakeland, then transferred to South Georgia Medical center in Valdosta. His doctors say he gave them quite a scare.

"I started tingling around my lips, my blood pressure went crazy, and I don't remember much about it after that," says Burch.

Burch is one of many South Georgians whose been bitten by a rattlesnake this summer.

"There's a steady stream of bites coming in because Lowndes county is a rural area that has many places for people to interact with poisonous snakes," says Dr. Bern Bechtel, snake expert.

Doctors say the best thing you can do if you are bitten by a snake is remain calm and get to the nearest hospital as quickly as possible. They also say you can rest assured you'll receive the proper treatment to save your life at any South Georgia hospital.

"Rural hospitals certainly have enough antivenin to stabilize you and get you to a larger hospital with a great amount of antivenin," says Dr. Stephen Zeigler.

As for David, he's decided to change his hobby, and has some advice for anyone else who may have an encounter like his.

"Don't be playing with rattlesnakes!" says Burch.

Wise advice we should all follow.